Australian Arrives to Mediate Hotel Strike

As a foreign mediator arrives today to attempt to salvage relations between luxury hotels and their aggrieved staff, three hotels are opting out of mediation talks and banking on a resolution in Cambodia’s courts.

The Sunway Hotel and Raffles-owned Hotel Le Royal and Grand Hotel d’Angkor in Siem Reap this week refused invitations to join last-ditch mediation talks brokered by Australian Michael Gay, Ar­bitration Council adviser Dan­iel Adler said.

Gay, a labor mediator for the Australian government, is expected to initiate talks today over the fiercely contested service charge, an issue that earlier this month ignited a weeklong strike affecting seven hotels.

Unions are demanding that ho­tels re­instate the service charge on guests’ bills and pay it to workers. The hotels for years had collected the 10 percent charge and kept the money, but many scrapped it altogether earlier this year after un­ions lodged complaints.

Hotel Cambodiana, Hotel Inter­Continental and Sofitel Angkor Hotel in Siem Reap are expected to join the mediated talks with union leaders.

Malaysian-owned Sunway was also expected to participate, but on Wednesday bowed out and in­stead filed a complaint in Muni­cipal Court alleging that workers were striking illegally. About 50 of Sunway’s 170-strong staff went on strike earlier this month, and a court ruling in the hotel’s favor may give it grounds to fire some of those workers.

The hotel has taken a hard-line stand on the issue, saying it won’t forward the service charge to workers unless the government orders it to do so, said Bun Honn, a Sunway lawyer.

The Raffles hotels also refused to join mediation, having filed court complaints earlier this year appealing a previous council decision that they collect the service charge and disburse it to workers.

The two hotels fired about 280 workers who took part in this month’s strike, causing the Grand Hotel d’Angkor to shutter its doors temporarily. Markland Blaiklok, the head of Singapore-based Raffles Hotels and Resorts, was quoted as saying the hotels will not rehire “active” strikers in an article published Wednesday in London-based The Financial Times.


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